As we approach Mother’s Day, I am drawn to reflect on my experiences of being mothered and on how those experiences directly and indirectly affected my own mothering and continue to influence my grand-mothering. Each night during my childhood, mother snuggled me into bed, asking that the Guardian Angels be at my side to enlighten, to guard, to rule, and to guide.
Last evening, as I tucked my youngest grandchild into his bed, I was aware of how this nightly prayer to the angels, prayed by my mother with me, and prayed by me with my children, and now prayed by my daughter with her children, was being prayed by my grandson with me, his grandmother. During that precious time with my grandson, I was aware that even though he had never known my mother during her lifetime, her prayerful influence had woven a spiritual intergenerational thread.
The next evening task involved checking on a plant my second grandson and I had recently planted. He and I enjoy gardening, a love that like the prayer to the Guardian angels was passed from my mother through the generations and continues on as her legacy. Many of the plants in my daughter’s garden are from my garden, and many of the plants in my garden originated from the garden of my mother.
Some of these rare beauties continue on, likely not only because of Mother’s gardening skills, but also because of the prayerful way in which she nurtured them during her lifetime. During my days in a spiritual crisis following the death of my son, Mother told me that it was in the garden where I would again find God. On one of her visits, I witnessed her lingering as she examined a rose. Sensing her complete absorption in the sacredness of the moment helped me understand more fully her teachings about God’s presence in creation.
My gardening experiences with my mother, with my daughters, and now with my middle grandson have helped me to find evidence of God in the splendors surrounding me. Being in my garden and fully engaged in the activities from planting to harvesting have helped me to accept the natural order in all of creation as a process of birthing and rebirthing, a process of mothering, of nurturing. Accepting this order in the garden and in creation has helped me to accept this order in my own life, in the lives of my children and grandchildren, in my parenting and in my grand-parenting.
As my oldest grandson settled for the nigh,t he and his grandfather engaged in a momentary pillow fight. As I encouraged a gentle match so no feathers would be freed, I was reminded of a feather story from my own childhood.
One autumn day when I was a little girl, I sat in the yard watching as my mother, his great grandmother, make new feather pillows. She was reusing the feathers from the worn pillows to complement the new goose down. After recycling the feathers into their fresh crisp abodes she shook the old casings to rid of any that remained. I was delighted to see the freed feathers drift where the breeze would have them go.
Responding to this opportune moment, Mother explained that our words are like the feathers. She warned that we must be careful of what we say. For as it is almost impossible to pick up the feathers scattered by the wind, it is almost impossible to reclaim our words. We never know who will be touched or where our words will land, so we must speak only those words that, regardless of where they land, will result in good.
In agreeing to spend last evening with my three grandsons, I was unaware of how the experiences with them would cause me to do this mini life review. I am delighted to recognize how those experiences have become spiritual threads woven through our intergenerational fabric, braiding us together one mother to another, and to another.
In relating my reflections and insights, I am hopeful that you too can recall some sacred moments shared with your own mother or grandmother. As you reexamine those times, ponder how they have influenced your parenting and perhaps your grand parenting, helping to strengthen the spiritual intergenerational bonds in your own family.